Brain Rules Chapter 6 Long Term Memory

Rule #6 – Remember to repeat.

My take aways:

1.  Long term memories become short term memories again when we recall them.  That’s important because it means that in order for that memory to be set back into long term storage it must go through the whole process of consolidation again.  This seems counter intuitive to me.  Shouldn’t the items we access the most often be the things that are most likely to be in long term storage?

2.  Recalling something that you learned is not like going to the library and pulling a book off the shelf and reading the information.  Dr. Medina likens it to a dective having to put together a case from a single scrap of information.  If all the puzzle pieces can’t be found then the brain may go to other unrelated memories to pull together an entire memory.  But we don’t know that has happened.  This helps to explain to me why most educators remember the early years of their career being a lot less full of trouble with students.  I have never been fully convinced that today’s students are less respectful, less willing to learn, less able to learn, etc.   Perhaps another way to describe this retrieval process is to liken it to looking up something on the Internet using Google!  You can get lots of good information that goes with your target but you might also turn up some product sold on a TV infomercial.

3.  Information needs to be repeated in short periodic bursts.  This one can be a problem with my elementary classes.  I only get to see them on set days of the week.  I really see this become a problem when I have a section of a class that meets on Mondays and Fridays.  I didn’t realize exactly how many of the days we have off are on Monday and Friday until I had a single section of a grade level that met only on these 2 days!  Not only were they further behind in being presented information but they also had a much more difficult time recalling things from the last class.  The challenge in presenting the same information multiple times is that it still needs to be interesting to the students on the 2nd and 3rd showing.  Perhaps this is where using things like Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence Theory would help to make learning more palitable.  Using these separate types of learning would also help the brain to make new and different connections with the material.  This should also help to solidify the learning that has taken place.

Brenda Muench

music educator tech integration specialist

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